Saturday, April 23, 2011

Doing business with China

Here's the scenario: You have a product you'd like to sell and are thinking about having it made in China, but don't have the slightest idea how to go about it. Well, have I got just the book for you!

Find a Manufacturer in China is a new book that will get you started. It's filled with basic information you'll need to get on the right track. It was written by M. Vacisin who has 15 years experience in international supply and freight moving. The short book is filled with tips on how to find a manufacturer in China to make your product as well as how to avoid getting ripped off by said manufacturer. The ebook also contains information on middlemen and freight forwarders.Vacisin also gives websites so you can find the indepth information you need to protect yourself before you get too heavily involved with one company. It was written for U.S. customers.

How do I know about this book? Well, I was asked to edit it because of my expertise of China.

The book is available now through the Amazon Kindle store. Purchasers of the book also get one of my ebooks, Chinese visas demystified, when they buy Vacisin's book. What a deal!

Are you going to China?

If you're planning a trip to China, please check out my website, and feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A visit to Qingdao

Downtown Qingdao as it was in 1997.
 When I worked at China Daily in the mid '90s, there were two work weeks: Monday through Friday and Sunday through Thursday, and everyone workd both of them. While it was no fun swtching from M-F to S-Th because you only got one day off, it was worth it because when we switched from S-Th to M-F, it meant we got a three-day weekend. I developed the habit of catching an overnight train after work on Thursdays to somewhere, coming back on the overnight train Sunday, showering and then heading to work on Monday.

One long weekend, I chose to visit Qingdao on the East China coast. It was almost like a quickie trip to Europe. At one time, Qingdao was a concession of Germany, and the architecture reflected this. Off the main drags, you could find narrow cobblestone streets and German styled gardens. Even the local beer, Tsing Tsao, was based on German brewing methods.

I don't recall that I ate any German food that weekend. I ate very little, as a matter of fact. In my wanderings, I came across a food stand where I was about to order something, when I felt something brush my feet. I looked down. It was a rat the size of a fat house cat. It wasn't afraid of people, so I'm assuming the food vendor must have fed it leftovers. There went my appetite. Later that day, I stumbled across the local food market, where buckets of live scorpions and snakes were on sale. Boy, was Qingdao sure good for my diet!

I did enjoy visiting the naval museum -- Qingdao is a port city for the Chinese navy. At the museum, you could climb on the exhibits and pretend you were shooting guns. Of course I did this, pretending that I was shooting fat rats while wishing I didn't have to pretend.

Rats and snakes aside, Qingdao makes a good trip out of Beijing if you have a few extra days. Train service is great and the city boasts accommodations in all price ranges. It's a very pretty city with some of the most amazing parks I've seen in China.

Perhaps the best meal I had that weekend was on the train back to Beijing. I struck up a friendship with two young Chinese men, who turned out to be oncologists making a run to Beijing to get a replacement knee for a patient. When they saw I was going to eat a bowl of instant noodles for my dinner, they immediately insisted I share their roast chicken dinner with vegetables they'd brought with them. I felt bad that I didn't have anything decent to share with them until I remembered the package of Oreo cookies I had in my backpack. They were delighted with the Oreos as they'd heard so much about out "national" cookie but had never had any. I couldn't believe they'd never had Oreos before -- they were popular in China, but then I considered that when someone is only making $30 a month (even an oncologist!), spending $1 for a dozen cookies wasn't in the budget. After that trip, I never traveled anywhere without Oreo cookies.

Going to China?

If you're going to China, please visit my website for some insider information. And feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My books on Amazon Kindle

Cover for my Cuandixia guide on Kindle.
 I love to read. There's just something about holding a book in my hands, turning the pages one by one as I get deeper into the plot. Reading a good book, whether fact or fiction, was just so important to my generation.

Today, books are being replaced with mobile devices such as IPads, Kindles and Nooks. You download a book and you can read it wherever you are. No more worrying about overdue fines at the library! I must admit these mobile devices have revolutionized the way we read. That's why I'm in the process of converting my travel guides to a mobile format.

I eventually will have all my Cheryl's Guides converted and plan to write new ones. These are the ones I have for sale now at the Amazon Kindle store:
The Kindle guides do not have pictures, other than an initial cover pictures. Supposedly you can have pictures on Kindle; I'm still working on figuring out how to do this. But the pictures that I do use are converted to black-and-white, and to me are not as appealing. If you want pictures, which I think are an important element in travel guides, Motorcycle Museums and Cuandixia are available as ebooks on GuideGecko. I'm told the ebook versions also work on Kindle. Motorcycle Museums also is available as a print book.

Keep watching my Amazon Kindle page for new additions in Kindle format.

Visual Travel Tours, which specializes in travel guides for mobile devices, has converted two of the podcasts I did for them to Kindle format:
  • Imperial Beijing, which is a tour of Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Jingshan Park.
  • Great Wall of China, which is a tour of all the sites I've visited on the Great Wall. This is my best-selling VTT tour.
China travel

If you have questions about travel in China, please check out my website, or feel free to email me.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Top 41 list

Around the first of the year, the New York Times travel section ran a list of 41 places we need to see in 2011. Two of those places were in China: Pingyao and Hangzhou.

I have not been to Hangzhou -- it's on our list of places to visit on one of out trips to China. But I have been to Pingyao, and long before it was a popular tourist destination.

I went to Pingyqo in 1997 on the recommendation of my Chinese co-workers. The trip started with an early morning express bus ride to Taiyuan, where I spent the remainder of the day looking over the city. The next day I caught a mini-bus to Pingyao, about an hour or so away.

Pingyao is one of the best preserved Ming Dynasty cities in China. It also was the site for the Chinese movie, Raise the Red Lantern. Residents weren't that used to seeing foreigners wandering the streets, and I soon attracted a following of curious children. This was much better for my ego than having a toddler take one look at me and run screaming for his mother.

Mostly I just wandered through the walled-in old town, and then climbed the city wall where I took this picture.

China is hell-bent on modernizing everything, and I wonder how Pingyao has fared in this process. Pingyao was on the short-list of our places for an overnight trip when we were in Beijing last fall, but Shanhaiguan won. But now it seems like Pingyao has become a hot destination for independent travelers to China. I'm sure I'll find many changes when I return.